Diamonds in the Rough

On Feb. 8, Jeff Bassett and Nancy Ernst closed Diamond Antiques at 1806 Cornwall Ave. after 18 years in business. They are now in the process of liquidating the inventory, with a live auction on Feb. 29, and a tag sale to finish clearing towards the third weekend in March.
“We moved to Bellingham from the eastside of Seattle 18 years ago with the intention of opening our antique store,” says Bassett.
“It was a passion for Nancy for many years,” he says, “and I had recently left the restaurant business to pursue a different avenue, and discovered a market on the internet for the resale of antiques and collectibles.”
The married couple spent time working the brick-and-mortar store, continued selling on the internet, and conducted estate sales and liquidations for clients for the entire 18 years. They’ve closed the store basically for retirement, but they still plan on selling online and doing a few estate sales.
“Our business has changed mostly from a change in the dynamics of who buys and collects today, along with a generational shift causing different periods to become popular,” says Bassett.
“Over the years we have found, owned, and sold a large variety of top-quality antiques, collectibles, and art, but even more important are the many wonderful people we have met and interacted with over the years.”
“The main reason I did it for the past 18 years,” he adds, “was that I didn’t have to work for the ‘other guy’ anymore. Other than store hours, I was able to otherwise work on the things we felt were fun or important.”
He shares a  few memories that he says “gave us a real thrill.”
“Shortly after opening our store, a man walks in and wants us to sell a lamp for him on the internet. So we went to his house and took photos, listed the lamp on the internet, and it sold for $10,000, which was pretty awesome for a new kid. He also became a very good client for whom we sold many very nice items over many years.”
“We also came across an art collection which I marked on the internet, and ended up meeting an art dealer from Cape Town, South. Africa, who flew to Seattle to look at several of them. When we left the Alexis Hotel in downtown Seattle we had an enormous sum of signed traveler’s checks and cash. I looked at Nancy, and said, ‘I’m sure glad we valet-parked the van when we arrived.”’
Bassett says there is always the thrill of the great find or discovery that is made in the antique business, and it also creates an environment for learning a lot of history. He calls it his “deep well of useless trivia”  and says it’s always fun to share the knowledge that one learns along the way with customers. He says they have a long list of friends they’ve met in Bellingham, getting to know many of them through the store.
“One thing that stands out for me are the older people we met along the way, and the many words of wisdom they had to impart,” Bassett says.
“ It has given us many goals and priorities to work towards as we enter this next chapter of our lives.”
The event on Feb. 29 will start at noon, with previews of the items up for auction available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28, as well as the morning of the auction from starting at 9 a.m.
Details:, 360-676-9100.